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Indian Ambassador meets Hon. Mensah-Williams

Indian High Commissioner to Namibia H.E Kumar Tuhin and Chairperson of the National Council, Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams during a Courtesy

 

  Story by Rafael Hangula

The Indian High Commissioner to Namibia H.E Kumar Tuhin yesterday (Thursday 22 February 2018) paid a Courtesy Call to the Chairperson of the National Council, Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams. The meeting looked at strengthening relationship between the Parliaments of the two countries, capacity building as well as development.

H.E Tuhin informed the Chairperson that India is in possession of very good capacity building programmes that can be utilized and strengthened for productivity in the Namibia.

Mensah-Williams welcomed the call by H.E Tuhin and assured him that she will facilitate and fast-track the process of capacity building and exchange programs. She said currently the National Council lacks adequate human resources due to the large portfolio and responsibility of the institution.

The Chairperson further briefed the Ambassador that the National Council is in the process of developing a Mobile Application, however the institution is currently struggling because the process is cumbersome. “The application aims to bring us closer to the people we serve. We would like to load things there and connect with young people,” she said.

“In terms of ICT, I would like to have a community radio established here with your assistance if it is possible, so that communities who don’t have television sets can be part of the democratic process,” said Mensah-Williams.

With regards to the country’s development she has requested the ambassador of India to assist in developing Namibia’s railway lines because although Namibia’s roads are amongst the best in the world, road accidents still continue to claim the lives of many citizens.

In his response, the Indian Ambassador said that some of the things that they can afford now can be done soon, however, regarding the railways he first has to consult back home.

NANSO leadership pays Courtesy Call on the Chairperson

Chairperson of the National Council, Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams with NANSO delegates

 

  Story by Rafael Hangula

The new leadership of the Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO) yesterday (Thursday 22 February) presented its Strategic Plan to the Chairperson of the National Council, Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams during the Courtesy Call on the Chairperson. The young and vibrant delegation also introduced the new leadership of the organisation to the Chairperson.

The strategic plan spells out the organizations’ intend to move from where it is currently to greater heights in order to achieve its mandate, that of representing students, as well as to formulate the working relationships and assist in the programs that the National Council has, especially if it is in line with the mandate of NANSO.

NANSO President Ester Simon explained that the new leadership would like to focus on the rebranding of the organization and to improve on the negative perceptions and reputation it gained for the past couple of years. She stressed that NANSO is not anti-government but aims to achieve its common goals, one of them the accessibility of education to all leaners across the country.

The organization also aims to introduce the financial literacy program, the tutorial program for graduates who completed their studies to start tutoring and the bursary scheme to assist students financially amongest others.

On her part, the Chairperson said; “I am very happy that you are coming up with practical issues and not just other ideologies, hence congratulations for tapping from the basic things.”

She further encouraged the NANSO leadership to come up with planning on how to deal with disturbing conditions such as human trafficking, child marriages, homeless kids and many other issues that are affecting the society.

“I would like to make a call on NANSO to make that part of your human rights programs, that you help those who are in need,” she said.

The new leadership of NANSO was elected into power in December 2017.

Incoming U.S Ambassador Pays First Courtesy Call on Chairperson

U.S Ambassador Lisa Anne Johnson receives a gift from Hon. Margaret Mensah, National Council Chairperson at the conclusion of their meeting yesterday

 

  Story by Pamela Mate

The newly appointed United States Ambassador to Namibia, H.E Lisa Anne Johnson paid a courtesy call on the Chairperson of the National Council, Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams yesterday (26 February 2017). The visit is Ambassador Johnson’s first official engagement since H.E President Hage Geingob received her diplomatic credentials about two weeks ago.

During the visit, Hon. Mensah-Williams touched on a host of issues and possible areas of cooperation between the two countries as well as highlighting existing programmes that could benefit from renewed enhancement with the involvement of National Council. Central to the discussion points was Gender-Based Violence and Gender Equality, Child Marriages, Basic Human Rights, HIV and Aids, issues relating to female inmates and to the Girl-Child and Human Trafficking amongst others. The Chairperson and the Ambassador discussed their thoughts around this challenges and how best to address them. Mensah-Williams said that as law makers, it is important that they review and pass Bills which speak to the contemporary issues society faces. On her part, the U.S Ambassador said she looks forward to the projects that are set to be rolled out in the coming months. One such project, DREAMS, is built upon the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) decades of experience empowering young women and advancing gender equality across the sectors of global health, education, and economic growth. H.E Johnson said the programme is targeted to keep adolescent girls in school as statistics show that girls who stay in school have lower HIV infection rates. The programme also aims to delay the adolescent girl’s first sexual encounter in as much as possible to avoid further possible risk of infection.

The Chairperson mentioned that as President of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians at the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, she is interested in getting the U.S Senate and House of Representatives back in the IPU to allow for more collaboration and participation. Ambassador Lisa Anne Johnson is an American diplomat, and a career member of the U.S Senior Foreign Service. Johnson previously served as Chargé d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas, from 2014 to 2017.

Western Sahara Ambassador pays courtesy call on Speaker, 23 February 2018

Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi (right) with the Ambassador of Western Sahara to Namibia, who is based in Angola, H.E. Bah Cheikh Mohamed

 

  Story by George Sanzila

Ambassador of Western Sahara to Namibia, H.E. Bah Cheikh Mohamed paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi today (23/02/2018).

Western Sahara which is recognized by Namibia and the African Union (AU) as an independent country, has parts of its territory occupied by Morrocco. The latter is in defiance of UN resolutions. H.E. Cheikh Mohamed informed the Speaker about the upcoming international conference in support of the freedom of Sahrawi people. Delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the conference that will take place from the 29th to 30th March 2018 in Algiers, Algeria.

Hon. Katjavivi pledged to lead a delegation from the National Assembly with familiarization visits of refugee camps forming part of his visit ahead of the conference. Katjavivi further promised to table a motion in the Namibian Parliament in support of the independence of Western Sahara.

“I am going to propose an unopposed motion in support of the independence of Western Sahara to remind ourselves, Africa and the world about the unfinished business of rooting out colonialism in Africa. We need to embark upon concerted efforts to free this sister country”, noted the Speaker.

According to Katjavivi the struggle of the Sahwari people draws parallels with that of Namibia during its dark days of apartheid noting that the visit was important. “This is a priority. The struggle of the Sahwari people is almost similar to the struggle of people of Namibia during apartheid”, said Katjavivi.

Seminar on Evaluating Gender Sensitivity of the Parliament of Namibia Ends

Members of Parliament from both houses and their support staff as well as gender experts from Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) and Namibia assembled for the three day seminar on evaluating the gender sensitivity of the parliament of Namibia

 

  Story by Rafael Hangula

The three day self-assessment exercise on evaluating the gender sensitivity of the Parliament of Namibia ended on Thursday (1 March 2018). The seminar was aimed at supporting and boosting Parliament’s efforts to integrate a gender perspective in all areas of its work such as representation, law-making, oversight etc.

During the seminar, several presentations such as gender mainstreaming, gender equality in Namibia: policies and legal framework at international and national level; defining a gender sensitive parliament, objectives, expectations and modalities of gender, legal and policy frameworks on gender equality, amongst others, were made.

After the three days of active participation by the members of parliament from both houses, the house has agreed on the following decisions as a result of the concerns that were raised during the session: amend the electoral law so as to make it mandatory for all political parties to apply the 50/50 gender representation rule. Ensure gender parity on Regional Councils and in the National Council, include gender equality as a core objective in parliament’s internal policies, set up a dedicated gender monitoring office within parliament, consolidate the women’s caucus in the National Assembly by transforming it into a parliamentary standing committee, and possibly merge both houses’ caucuses, at the next sitting of the National Council (May 2018), convene a meeting between the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and the Women Caucus from both houses so as to define areas of joint cooperation.

 

It was also decided that Parliament should reach out to constituents to sensitise them on gender equality principles and legislation. At individual level, male MPs should speak up for gender equality and set a positive example to other men by challenging stereotypes on the respective roles of men and women (in the media and in their communities) and opposition political parties need to become more gender-sensitive, with the support of a quota in the electoral law.

In her closing statement that was presented on her behalf by the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs and an MP in the National Council Hon. Hilma Nicanor, the Chairperson of the National Council Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams said the just concluded seminar has helped the MPs to identify the issues on which they have done well but, most importantly, it has assisted them to identify the problem areas that need to be addressed to ensure that parliament become a more gender sensitive institution.

“The evidence collected by the Inter-Parliamentary Union shows that a more gender-balanced parliament delivers better on gender equality and is a more effective institution,” said Mensah-Williams.

“It is for this reason that I call upon you all to redouble your efforts and work even harder to remove the obstacles that still stand in our way. Women’s rights are human rights. Parliament should become a shining example in our society where women fully participate in the legislative process” she added.

The three day get together that included a number of gender experts was organized in conjunction with the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU). It followed a similar undertaking held in 2016 to look on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its implementation in Namibia.

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